The conflict in Yemen, now entering its seventh year, has taken a devastating human toll – 233,000 people have died, more than half from indirect causes including lack of food and healthcare. For four years, Yemen has been the site of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The country is now on the brink of famine. Action Against Hunger calls on the international community to fund humanitarian operations to match increasingly urgent needs, to facilitate unimpeded humanitarian access, and to protect civilians from hunger caused by the conflict.
“In Yemen, children are literally starving. Rich countries are drastically reducing their contributions to humanitarian aid, and it is not reaching those who need it most. We are in a drastic situation that gets a little closer to famine each day,” says Willow Rook, Deputy Country Director for Action Against Hunger in Yemen, who just returned from Al Hodeidah region, one of the areas hit hardest by the conflict.
More than 16 million Yemenis are suffering from hunger, and 400,000 children under age five are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition this year if they do not receive urgent treatment. The maritime blockade contributes to the crisis by preventing humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and other necessities from entering the country and reaching communities in need quickly.
The war in Yemen intensified in 2020, leaving more than 80% of Yemenis living below the poverty line and at least 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance to survive. The crisis has denied millions of people access to adequate medical care, employment, and clean water.
Yemen’s economy has experienced a further dramatic slowdown in recent months. The country is 90% dependent on imports of wheat and other basic food items, while the value of Yemeni Rial has fallen by 250% from its pre-conflict value. Even when available in the markets, food, water and other basic necessities are unaffordable for many families, who must pay prices 140% higher than before the war.
“Everything changed,” says Faisal, who was forced to leave his home in Taizz due to a breakdown in the water and transportation networks and is now internally displaced. “Before, we could afford to buy things. Since the war started, everything started to become more expensive. Even people who have livestock couldn’t afford to keep them. They lost their livelihood.”
To date, international donors have contributed just 10% of the $3.85 billion needed to conduct humanitarian operations in Yemen in 2021. Budget cuts will worsen the suffering of Yemenis. To break the vicious cycle of conflict and hunger in Yemen, Action Against Hunger calls for new humanitarian financing, facilitated imports of essential goods to the population, and greater respect for international humanitarian law by the parties involved in the conflict.
Action Against Hunger has been active in Yemen since 2012 and is one of the few international aid organizations operating within the country, implementing programs in Nutrition and Health; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Food Security and Livelihoods.
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